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Hannibal Courier - Post - Hannibal, MO
  • American Legion Thanksgiving dinner a tradition

  • For many Hannibalians, sharing the free Thanksgiving dinner with their friends at the American Legion Hall is a long-time tradition, while for others, it was a new experience this year.
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  • For many Hannibalians, sharing the free Thanksgiving dinner with their friends at the American Legion Hall is a long-time tradition, while for others, it was a new experience this year.
    Many local people also have the traditional turkey dinner delivered by the American Legion volunteers, such as Harry and Geri Graves, who were delivering 13 dinners at a time. Rod DePriest also was busy filling carry-out plates.
    Among the diners was Donna Toalson, who arrived with her brother and sister-in-law, Carey and Brenda Toalson.
    Also continuing their Thanksgiving dinner tradition were Bobby and Wanda Hamilton, as well as Ralph and Freda Hughes.
    Others were attending for the first time. Rod and Cindy Benjamin were among a group of friends. “We called and texted each other” to meet there for their holiday dinner, Rod said. “It’s great.”
    Until this year they have had a family Thanksgiving at home, but this year he said, “The kids were all out and busy and in other states.”
    Cindy said it was the first time in 25 years she had not cooked the meal.
    Cindy added that to give their home some Thanksgiving aroma, she had baked pumpkin pies on Wednesday and on Thursday after returning home, she was preparing chicken and noodles.
    A total of 400 dinners were delivered, and another 250 were served in-house, for a total of 650 dinners, according to Chuck Houston, who was in charge of the kitchen.
    He reported the number of dinners “stays about the same” each year, adding, “the senior citizens depend on it. That is how we get so many carry-ins. They (the Hannibal Nutrition Center) give us their list for meals on wheels. And several call in as well.”
    Houston and his wife, Sharon, have been helping since the beginning of the Thanksgiving dinners at the American Legion, some 17 years ago, he said.
    He became involved to help his father-in-law, the late Ray Ball, who was active in the American Legion, and his wife, the late Delores Ball.
    Among the volunteers delivering dinners and working in the kitchen this year were members of the Key Club at Hannibal High School.
    Tammy Harr, a past commander of American Legion Post No. 55, and her daughter, Jackie, were also busy all day, Houston said. “Jackie was delivering meals and helping Key Club members.
    “Tammy helped with everything to make sure it went without a hitch,” Houston said. She also did the decorations.
    One group of volunteers was from Hannibal-LaGrange University, Houston added. “I didn’t go out of the kitchen for several hours and then saw the young servers and most all were from Hannibal-LaGrange University.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Volunteers serving the food included Tina Barbee, Lacey Hagan, Stephen Campbell, Vu Van, Molley Patrick, R.J. Benavente and Jessica Lang.
    The group washing dishes included Marion Miller, who reported he had “been doing a little bit of everything.”
    “A  lot of the food was donated,” Houston said. “The majority was donated, and there was a free-will offering. The nutrition center donated several pies.”
    Later Thanksgiving afternoon, Houston said, “I’m just looking forward to next year.”

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